Children Not Known
For two weeks Charles and Gayle lived in the house together, but separate bedrooms. They agreed to have his presence kept secret. When anyone came by Wilson quickly hid and they were careful to make sure there was no trace of him being there. Both agreed that he did not need the pressure of others to remember.
It was mid morning and they were having coffee together in a sunroom. They looked out over a pleasant rolling countryside scattered with pine woods and small meadows.
“I have something to tell you that I’m not sure how you will accept,” Gayle said.
“Do you want me to move out,” Charles said. “I understand. This must be such a strain on you.”
“No,” Gayle said and breathed deep. “I invited our children to come over.”
“What do they know?” Charles said.
“I told them you’ve been here for a couple of weeks and your condition,” Gayle said. “They want to see you very badly.”
“But I won’t be their father,” Charles said.
“Not in your mind,” Gayle said. “But in theirs and it may help you.”
“Or ..” Charles said.
“Or what?” Gayle said.
“Or drive me further away,” Charles said.
“Maybe what I’m hiding was something terrible done to them,” Charles said. “Something that not even they know about. What if I’m pushed to a point of no return.”
“Wasn’t that on your mind before you came here?” Gayle said.
“I explored the possibility,” Charles said.
“But it was worth the risk?” Gayle said. “They’ll be here in a half hour.”
“Where do I start?” Charles said.
“What did you do when I opened the door two weeks ago?” Gayle.
“They’re my flesh,” Charles said. “Children look up to fathers. Looking into their eyes and not having a clue who they are might destroy them.”
“They are mature young adults,” Gayle said. “The are incredibly empathetic. That’s one thing you passed on to them. You always gave them a sense of compassion for others. It is one of the ways that defines who they are.”
Charles folded his hands and held them to his mouth and looked down at the table. He thought deeply and closed his eyes hoping for a vision of his children to come into his head; a vision other than the photo albums he had been looking through for the past two weeks. “I looked in photo albums everyday,” Charles said. “I listened to you tell the stories surrounding each picture and there’s nothing. It’s like hearing it for the first time. It’s like hearing it from a stranger, you quickly forget what the picture was about. I just have no interest.”
“You are fighting it,” Gayle said. “Something doesn’t want you to remember. Did you ever think it might be physical, like a tumor or you may have been struck on the head. It may have come from an old injury.”
“I feel fine physically,” Charles said. “No headaches, blurred vision, or dizzy spells; nothing that would point to something physical.”
“Maybe we can have that checked out?” Gayle said.
“Yes,” Charles said, “perhaps in time.”
“Keep in mind,” Gayle said. “Your children want to see you more than anything in the world. They have had to live with the thought you may have died.”
“Not to be negative,” Charles said, “but they may have to live knowing that to me they may have never existed.”
Charles and Gayle talked for a while longer. There eyes widened as they heard two car doors shut. Gayle reached across the table and held Charles’ hand. His mouth became dry and his heart pounded in his chest the same way it did when he stood waiting at the door two weeks earlier.
“I hope this doesn’t all blow up in our face,” Charles said.
“I’ll meet them at the door,” Gayle said. “You sit and I’ll bring them in to the sunroom.”